As April draws to a close, the AAR team has taken a look through the new release lists and picked out their most highly anticipated titles for the month ahead. As usual, this isn’t a definitive list, so please do drop by and tell us which books you’re most eagerly awaiting!

Variable Onset by Layla Reyne (4 May)

Layla Reyne has been a bit hit and miss for me lately, but something about her books keeps me reading them, so I’m looking forward to her next, a standalone romantic suspense story featuring an FBI agent and his former student who go undercover as a married couple to catch a serial killer. Sounds right up my alley! – CazTrouble Brewing, which I just couldn’t connect with, I was ready to quit this author. But I loved Agents Irish and Whiskey so much, I find I just can’t quite do it. Romantic suspense is my go-to jam these days, and I’m rooting for Leyne to produce another hit. – Em

Buy it at: Amazon

He’s Come Undone Anthology (12 May)

Emma Barry, Adriana Herrera, Cat Sebastian, Ruby Lang, AND Olivia Dade? In an anthology centered around in-control heroes and the partners (some male, some female) who finally make them lose control? I don’t preorder often, but hello, one-click. – Caroline

As Caroline said – this is a one-clicker for me! – Lisa

The authors in this anthology are some of my favorites so it doesn’t really matter what they’re writing about, it’s going on my to-read list! – Maria Rose

Buy it at: Amazon

Slippery Creatures by KJ Charles (13 May) – Caz, Lisa

A new book from KJ Charles is always something to celebrate! Slippery Creatures is the first in her trilogy of Will Darling Adventures set in 1920s England. Get ready for rip-roaring adventure, dastardly plots, evil villains, witty dialogue, a stubborn, down-to-earth hero and his enigmatic, suave and tricky maybe-love-interest. (I’ve read it and it’s fab!) And the other two books in the series will be out later this year – I can’t wait! – Caz

I mean, what else can I say? It’s KJ Charles. Yes, I want to read it. Yes, I will probably love it. Yes. Yes. Yes. I can’t get my hands on this one fast enough. – Em

K.J. Charles is always transcendent! – Lisa

Buy it at: Amazon

Starcrossed by Allie Therin (18 May)

Last year’s Spellbound was a thoroughly entertaining read, with interesting characters and a strong, magical storyline. I’m eager to catch up with Rory, Arthur and their friends in the next book. – Caz

I really enjoyed the magic systems and worldbuilding that the author introduced in Spellbound, the first in her Magic in Manhattan series. I’m excited to see what she has in store for us with Starcrossed! – Maria Rose

Buy it at: Amazon

Beach Read by Emily Henry (19 May)

A literary fiction author and a romance author agree to swap genres. . . and fall in love? Sally Thorne wrote the cover blurb, which is really almost all I would need to know, even if I didn’t think the premise is a hoot. – Charlotte

Lots of buzz from friends led me to this one. I’m not familiar with Emily Henry, and I’m leery when a reader jumps from YA to straight up contemporary romance…but rom-com, forced proximity and enemies to lovers should be a good combination for me. Looking forward to trying this new-to-me author. – Em

Buy it at: Amazon/Indiebound

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins (19 May)

When it was revealed that the protagonist was Snow, many people vowed that they wouldn’t read this prequel. I agreed with them for a bit, then then decided I really wanted to see what Suzanne Collins does with this. Especially when I learned that the teenaged Snow will have to become the mentor of a girl from District 12 before the tenth annual Hunger Games. – Anne

I have THOUGHTS about a book that takes us back in time to see young President Snow as the protagonist… but maybe Collins can make it work? – Caroline

A prequel for to The Hunger Games? This is a gift I can’t wait to unwrap. Definitely a ‘drop whatever else I’m reading’ book release. Fingers crossed it lives up to all the hype. – Em

Buy it at: Amazon/Indiebound

How to Catch a Queen by Alyssa Cole (26 May)

Okay, yes, I’m susceptible to covers, but have you SEEN this cover? Also, Sanyu and Shanti were interesting guest characters in the last Reluctant Royals book, so I’m curious to hear their story. – Caroline

A fresh series from Alyssa Cole! Shanti Mohapi has always dreamed of becoming a queen, but her husband’s people see her as an outsider. King Sanyu, her new husband, doesn’t expect to fall in love with his bold wife but does. When Shanti runs away, Sanyu must track her down. Cole never, ever disapoints! – Lisa

Buy it at: Amazon/Indiebound

The Fiery Crown by Jeffe Kennedy (26 May)

The Orchid Throne was one of my Best of 2019 picks. I love high fantasy and a good sword-swinging barbarian hero, and I am very curious to see where this one (Conri) and his heroine (Lia, who married him in the last book) go from here. – Caroline

Jeffe Kennedy writes exciting and intricate fantasy romance series and The Forgotten Empires is no exception. Having brought to life two very interesting characters in The Orchid Throne, I’m eager to see where their marriage of convenience takes them next. – Maria Rose

Buy it at: Amazon/Indiebound

Wayward by Gregory Ashe (29 May)

Gregory Ashe continues this brilliant, nail-biting, inside-twisting series with a story that looks set to turn the angst up to a gazillion percent! Hazard and Somers are one of my all-time favourite pairings, and this story sees them investigating a murder while planning a wedding. What could possibly go wrong?! – Caz

I’ve held off reading Transactional Dynamics (book 3 in the fabulous Hazard and Somerset: A Union of Swords series) so I could read it and then immediately start this one. Spoiler alert: I probably won’t last until the 29th! Hazard and Somers are my favorite romantic partnership, and Ashe is one of my favorite writers. I’m ready to be put through the wringer with these two. Again. – Em

Buy it at: Amazon

We’re also looking forward to…


The Betrothed by Kiera Cass (5 May)

In spite of myself, I’m a Selection addict. I even read the connected novellas. So I’m excited to see a new Kiera Cass book with another gorgeous dress on the cover. Some advance readers are complaining that this sounds too much like The Selection series. Dresses… A castle… A love triangle… But if I’m reading a Kiera Cass book, that’s sort of what I want. Maybe this will be my perfect pandemic read.

Buy it at: Amazon/Indiebound

House of Dragons by Jessica Cluess (12 May)

In this book, five royal houses strive to win the Trial and compete for the dragon throne. The publisher says Think Three Dark Crowns meets The Breakfast Club. With dragons. It’s a blood-soaked YA fantasy inspired by Rome. So look out! The humans might be more brutal than the dragons.

Buy it at: Amazon/Indiebound


Take Me by Caitlin Crews (1 May)

Before she settles for a loveless marriage, a buttoned-up aristocrat heads Down Under for a hot good time with her best friend. There are a LOT of tropes in that sentences, and I’m susceptible to all of them.

Buy it at: Amazon

My Summer of Love and Misfortune by Lindsay Wong (12 May)

After a failed relationship and an even worse college admissions season, Chinese-American Iris expects to spend the summer eating cheap dumplings with her relatives in Beijing but instead finds herself mixing with the super-rich. How can I miss a book billed as the YA Crazy Rich Asians?

Buy it at: Amazon/Indiebound

The Henna Wars by Adiba Jaigirdar (12 May)

Two girls go head-to-head in a school business contest with their own henna art studios and fall in love along the way – a problem compounded by the fact that one is still very much in the closet to her family.

Buy it at: Amazon/Indiebound


The Hideaway Inn by Philip William Stover (26 May)

The Hideaway Inn is one of the first titles in Carina Press’ new Carina Adores line, dedicated to contemporary LGBTQ+ romances. Philip William Stover is a new-to-me author, and I’m looking forward to this second chance/opposites attract romance, which is the first book in the Seasons of New Hope series.

Buy it at: Amazon/Indiebound


Queen Move by Kennedy Ryan (26 May)

I didn’t connect with the first book in the All the King’s Men duology, and ending up setting it aside to try again at a later date. Queen Move is a spin-off story set in the same world. I’m tempted to read it (I mean, I love Kennedy Ryan), and I’m putting this one on my TBR. Think this is one of those ‘let’s see what other reviewers are saying before I read it,” kind of books. We shall see. – Em

Buy it at: Amazon


Witness Protection Unraveled by Maggie K. Black (5 May)

What a twist on a classic! An undercover detective in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police is forced into witness protection. Looking forward to #3 in the Love Inspired Suspense-Protected Identities series.

Buy it at: Amazon/Indiebound


Love’s Recipe by Mila Nicks (1 May)

The idea of a foodie romance appeals to my sensual, epicurean nature. However, I haven’t yet read one that I thoroughly enjoyed. My fingers are crossed that multicultural romance Love’s Recipe delivers! Divorcée and single mom, Rosalie, returns to her Louisiana hometown and gets a job as a waitress at Ady’s Creole Café. In an effort to save the restaurant from closing its doors, Rosalie enters the business into a food competition to attract customers. Now, Rosalie must work with Ady’s owner, Nick, to learn how to cook the café’s one-of-a-kind dishes – and attraction between the two heats up.

Buy it at: Amazon

A Taste of Sage by Yaffa S. Santos (19 May) – Liz

When chef Lumi Santana’s Dominican restaurant fails, she is forced to take a job at a French restaurant owned by smug chef Julien Dax. Lumi, who can perceive a person’s emotion by tasting their cooking, eventually develops an insatiable craving for both Julien and his culinary creations. This foodie rom-com sounds like a sexy good time!

Buy it at: Amazon/Indiebound

The Plus One Pact by Portia MacIntosh (21 May) – Liz

Cara is facing a summer filled with weddings and personal engagements, and she does not want to attend by herself. When Cara meets handsome Millsy, the two devise a mutually beneficial pact to be each other’s plus one. According to blurbs, this friends-to-lovers romantic comedy is “…hilarious, roaringling fun…” and “…several hours of pure escapism.”

Buy it at: Amazon

Something to Talk About by Meryl Wilsner (26 May)

A tabloid scandal develops after a Hollywood showrunner and her assistant share an innocuous laugh on the red carpet. Amidst the ensuing paparazzi frenzy, the women develop feelings for each other while work together on a film project. Something to Talk About sounds like a wonderfully intriguing read.

Buy it at: Amazon/Indiebound


Close Up by Amanda Quick (5 May)

Amanda Quick’s Burning Cove series of romantic mysteries continues to beguile.

Buy it at: Amazon/Indiebound

Recipe for Persuasion by Sonali Dev (26 May)

The second volume of Dev’s The Rajes series follows chef Ashna Raje as she’s forced to team up with her first love to save her resteraunt. Hope I like this as much as the first volume! – Lisa

Buy it at: Amazon/Indiebound

Maria Rose:

Sure Shot by Sarina Bowen (12 May)

I love Sarina Bowen’s hockey romances! Sure Shot has a familiar kind of plot – a sports agent and a newly traded hockey player get tangled up in a romance – but I can always count on her to delivers a fun and sexy story, just what I’m in the mood for these days.

Buy it at: Amazon/Indiebound

Real Men Knit by Kwana Jackson (19 May)

The story idea, that four foster brothers inherit a knitting shop and have to figure out what to do with it is definitely contemporary romance fodder. I’ve seen reviews that describe it as family fiction with a slow burn friends to lovers romance and I’m intrigued to see how it all plays out.

Buy it at: Amazon/Indiebound


Old Lovegood Girls by Gail Godwin (5 May)

Gail Godwin is a masterful writer who brings the American south to life again and again with her lovely prose. I love the way her stories dig deep beneath the surface of a region many see as idyllic, showing readers both the joys and the heartaches of those who make their homes there. It’s been years since Ms. Godwin has released a new book, so saying I’m ready to devour this one is a definite understatement.

Buy it at: Amazon/Indiebound

Big Summer by Jennifer Weiner (5 May)

I’m a fan of almost everything this author writes, so a new book from her is a highlight of any month. Her characters always feel like people I could easily encounter as I go about my daily life, and their struggles and triumphs are incredibly easy to relate to. I have high hopes for this book, and I’m confident in Ms. Weiner’s ability to craft a novel her fans will absolutely adore.

Buy it at: Amazon/Indiebound

This Coven Won’t Break by Isabel Sterling (19 May)

I’ve been looking forward to this YA fantasy release since I read the author’s first book last year. These Witches Don’t Burn was a sheer delight from start to finish, making its sequel a book I absolutely cannot wait to get my hands on. The characters are flawed but relatable, and the female/female romance melted my heart. I’m hoping this year’s book will be every bit as good.

Buy it at: Amazon/Indiebound

Hideaway by Nora Roberts (26 May)

There’s something incredibly special about the way Nora Roberts crafts her standalone novels. The subject matter can be pretty dark, but I almost always find these books to be super comforting. They really are the book equivalent of being wrapped in a snuggly blanket, something my heart and soul need during these troubling times. The novel is set on a horse ranch, one of my favorite settings for this kind of book, so I’m pretty sure readers are in for a treat.

Buy it at: Amazon/Indiebound

PLEASE NOTE: This is not a comprehensive list of available titles, just a selection made by AAR reviewers according to their personal tastes. Purchase links are given where available at time of writing.

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Queer romance, romantic suspense and historicals - romance, mysteries, fiction -  are my genres of choice these days, and when I haven't got my nose in a book, I’ve got my ears in one.  I’m a huge fan of audiobooks and am rarely to be found without my earbuds in.